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Environmental filtering and environmental stress shape regional patterns of riparian community assembly and functional diversity

Portela, Ana Paula, Durance, Isabelle ORCID:, Vieira, Cristiana and Honrado, João 2023. Environmental filtering and environmental stress shape regional patterns of riparian community assembly and functional diversity. Freshwater Biology 68 (8) , pp. 1428-1441. 10.1111/fwb.14138

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Riparian plant communities are key to ecosystem functioning and important providers of ecosystem services on which wildlife and people depend. Ecosystem functioning and stability depend on functional diversity and redundancy. Therefore, understanding which and how different drivers shape community assembly processes and functional patterns is crucial. However, there is limited knowledge of these processes at larger scales for the entire riparian vascular plant community. Two community assembly processes dominate: environmental filtering, where species living in similar environments have similar traits leading to trait convergence; and limiting similarity, where similar traits cause species to compete more strongly leading to trait divergence. We assessed functional diversity patterns of riparian vascular plant communities across an Atlantic–Mediterranean biogeographical gradient in north Portugal. We used functional diversity indices and null models to detect community assembly processes and whether these processes change along environmental gradients. We hypothesised that environmental filtering associated with precipitation and aridity would be the prevailing assembly process at a regional scale. We also expected a shift from environmental filtering to limiting similarity as precipitation‐related stress declined. As hypothesised, patterns of functional diversity were consistent with environmental filtering of species occurrences at the regional scale. Functional patterns were also consistent with a shift between environmental filtering and limiting similarity as cold and aridity stress declined. Under stressful environmental conditions, communities showed lower functional divergence and richness than expected by chance. Environmental filtering was more strongly associated with minimum temperatures than precipitation and aridity. Underlining the need for hierarchical approaches and the analysis of multiple climatic stressors, our results highlighted the relevance of large‐scale environmental stress gradients and the potential role of community assembly in influencing riparian functional diversity. Alterations in stress filters due to climate change will affect assembly processes and functional patterns, probably affecting ecosystem functioning and stability.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Water Research Institute (WATER)
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0046-5070
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 June 2023
Date of Acceptance: 22 May 2023
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2023 21:25

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